How to Negotiate So You Succeed Every Time

by Mar 21, 2018

Do you feel confident when you enter into negotiations?

If you’re like a lot of people, you don’t even like negotiation that much – maybe not at all.

Instead of seeing an opportunity to improve your company’s future, you see an unpleasant situation that usually involves a lot of uncomfortable moments and an unfavorable outcome.

In my experience, people with this perspective simply don’t know how to negotiate.

All they have to do is learn some very simple skills and, all of a sudden, they enjoy better outcomes and can’t wait for their next chance to negotiate again.


How to Negotiate to Get the Outcomes You Want

Learning how to negotiate may seem like an intimidating prospect, but success largely comes down to mastering four basic concepts.

Review these often, practice them with your team, and use them during negotiations.

You may quickly find that the thing you liked doing least becomes one of those you’re best at.


1. Reconsider What “Success” Means

First and foremost, learning how to negotiate isn’t about winning at any cost. This kind of mentality will always limit your potential as a negotiator. You may “come out ahead” every now and then, but this approach will also keep you from forming long-term relationships with clients.

Instead, you want to redefine “success” so it means a win-win scenario where both you and the other party walk away happy.

Again, this makes negotiating with the same person a lot easier in the future. They won’t be on their guard, constantly waiting for you to take advantage of the situation like you did last time.

However, this paradigm shift will help with new parties, too, because you won’t feel any pressure to deceive them or otherwise manipulate the negotiation so it “goes your way.” You’ll be working with them on finding a mutually-beneficial outcome, something that’s much easier and more enjoyable.


2. Focus on Conversational Engagement During the First Five Minutes

You probably know all about the importance of making a good first impression.

It turns out they’re especially important when it comes to negotiations.

According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Sciences, entitled, “Thin Slices of Negotiation,” the outcome of a negotiation can be predicted within its first five minutes.

So how do you make the most of these 300 seconds?

According to the research, this is when you need to focus on “activity level, conversational engagement, prosodic emphasis, and vocal mirroring.”

In short, you want to adapt to the other party’s emotional/social style. If you do this successfully, they’ll subconsciously find you more agreeable. If you don’t, the rest of the negotiation will be a steep uphill climb. Try my Social Style Battle Cards to help with aligning your social style to your prospects’.

Keep in mind that you don’t want to blatantly copy the person’s every movement and inflection.

If they’re sitting upright and taking a serious tone, do the same. If they’re all smiles and prompt small talk, go along with it. The more you seem familiar to them, the better.


3. Use Silence to Your Advantage

In the movies, the most successful negotiators are often the fast-talking types who hardly let the other person get a word in edgewise. They ooze with confidence and seem to know exactly what to say to get the deal.

In real life, talking too much is a really good way to end the negotiation early.

You run the risk of assuming things about the other party, which shows them you probably don’t understand their perspective.

For many of my students, learning how to negotiate began with learning how to become comfortable with silence.

In fact, silence can be a powerful negotiation tool.

If you’re trying to work for the win-win outcome but don’t think your counterpart is being upfront, ask one simple question, “What frustrations can we eliminate for you?”, and then be quiet. Let them be the ones to fill the void and see what they have to say…and really, I mean it, REALLY listen!

Being able to sit back and be quiet is a sign of strength.

It conveys to the other party that you are willing to walk away, so it’s best to be forthright instead of engaging in petty, “hardball” tactics.  To avoid using these hardball tactics follow up your silence with this FOMO Statement Maker to further engage your prospects.


4. Be the First to Make an Offer

This doesn’t mean never talking, of course. Mimes wouldn’t make very good negotiators.

There are certainly times when it’s actually in your best interest to speak up.

Conventional wisdom is to let the other side make the first offer. Once they do, the reasoning goes, you now have more information and can make a better counteroffer.

While I don’t dispute that this can be the case, it’s not that simple.

In negotiations that involve a great deal of uncertainty, the first offer acts as a powerful anchor.

Throughout the rest of the negotiation, it will wield a strong pull and further valuations will be adjusted only after it’s considered.

Furthermore, making the first offer is another way of showing strength.

Despite the perceived disadvantages to going first, you are clearly confident enough to ignore them and do so anyway.

This can also be a great overture for entering into a win-win scenario. You are being upfront and appearing to offer a major advantage to the other party by allowing them to know where you stand before proceeding.


Learn How to Negotiate from an Expert

Learning how to negotiate successfully will make all the difference in your career.

If you’d like to learn from a proven expert, I’m here to help.

Negotiation is one of the main areas we cover at RedRock Leadership in my eight-week Systematic Foundation™ program. I’ll also teach you about goal-planning, prospecting, closing sales, and much more.

For those of you who need to manage a team of highly-successful negotiators, there’s my Take the Lead™ program. I’ll show you how to become an effective coach, motivate your staff, and hold people accountable.

When you become a better negotiator, your business can’t help but benefit and you gain an extremely marketable addition to your resume. Use the advice above to instantly improve your negotiation skills and sign up for one of my programs so you can achieve more this year than ever before.


Jeff Ruby

Jeff Ruby

Founder of RedRock Leadership

During the course of his professional career, he has worked in organizations ranging in size from a sole practitioner to Fortune 500. Included in his experience are roles in starting and selling companies, sales and sales management, training and development and executive coaching.

RedRock Leadership is a sales training and leadership development company committed to growing companies by growing individuals through on-going training infused with the competencies of emotional intelligence.